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It will be a busy day for the first hearing of a lawsuit that has rocked the German art world. On 11 November, the Düsseldorf district court is due to hear the €19m fraud case of the Albrecht family against the art adviser Helge Achenbach, and only 30 minutes later, the case of Achenbach’s wife, who is counter-suing the Albrecht family.

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The Museums Association (MA) has barred Northampton Museums Service from membership for at least five years following a disciplinary hearing of the MA ethics committee today.

The disciplinary panel ruled that the service, which is run by Northampton Borough Council, had breached the MA’s Code of Ethics by selling the ancient Egyptian statue Sekhemka from the collection of Northampton Museum and Art Gallery.

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Wednesday, 23 October 2013 18:10

Art Thief Threatens to Sue Kunsthal Museum

Radu Dogaru, the Romanian man who admitted to stealing $24 million worth of art from the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam, threatened to sue the institution for making the robbery too easy. Dogaru is one of six Romanians on trial for last year’s heist, which shook the art world.

On Tuesday, October 22, Dogaru told the court, “I could not imagine that a museum would exhibit such valuable works with so little security.“ Dogaru’s lawyer, Catalin Dancu, claims that the Kunsthal could be found guilty of negligence since their security system failed, allowing the thieves to make off with the artworks.

Last October, Dogaru and his accomplices made off with Pablo Picasso’s Tete d’Arlequin, Claude Monet’s Waterloo Bridge, London and Charing Cross Bridge, London, Henri Matisse’s La Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune, Paul Gauguin’s Femme devant une fenetre ouverte, dite la Fiancee, Meyer de Haan’s Autoportrait, and Lucian Freud’s Woman with Eyes Closed. Following the heist, rumors began to circulate that Dogaru’s mother, Olga, had incinerated the stolen paintings in her stove in an attempt to protect her son. Olga Dogaru later retracted her statement although fragments of oil paintings were found in the ashes in her stove. On Tuesday, Dogaru told the court that, “the paintings were certainly not destroyed. I don’t know where they are but I believe they have been sold.” A separate investigation into the possible destruction of the artwork is underway.

Doguru’s next hearing is due on November 19. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Published in News
Friday, 19 July 2013 13:21

Smithsonian Battles Storage Issues

Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian Institution, which is comprised of 19 museums and 9 research centers devoted to the “increase and diffusion of knowledge,” has seen an rise in troubles relating to their storage system. The Smithsonian currently has 130 million objects ranging from paintings and furniture to skeletons in their storage and maintenance facilities, many of which reside in damaged containers or poorly organized archives. During a recent audit, the National Museum of American History was allegedly unable to locate 10% of their collection.

The Committee on House Administration held a hearing on Wednesday, July 17th to discuss the challenges facing the care of the Smithsonian’s collections of art, archival footage and delicate objects. Smithsonian Inspector, General Scott Dahl, claimed that the institution is still employing poor storage space that was built in the 1950s and never intended for long-term use. A report from the Smithsonian’s inspector general in 2006 showed that not only were the storage facilities inadequate, but that security and inventory controls were lacking, leaving some of the country’s most precious treasures susceptible to theft or misplacement.

The Smithsonian has been working to fix their storage and maintenance issues for the past seven years and has invested $462 million in collections management and $390 million in facilities improvements. However, ongoing budget cuts have made fixing these issues once and for all, increasingly difficult. In addition, a large portion of the Smithsonian’s budget is currently being used to digitize the museum’s collection, which could take years.

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